For Louisville football fans, Monday afternoon's press conference was your call to arms. Coach Bobby Petrino and the Cardinals return to Papa John's Cardinal Stadium this Saturday with another Governor's Cup win in tow, hoping to see a strong Louisville crowd for their first home game. U of L, recently ranked among the Top 10 teams in the nation in the Coaches' Poll, will face Oregon State Saturday at noon in a game televised by ESPN.
When asked about his home field advantage in Papa John's, Petrino challenged the Cardinal fans to be loud on Saturday.
"We hope (our home-field advantage) is really big. That's what we want," Petrino said. "We want to get where it is a real tough place to come in to play. Our guys are excited about it. It is our first time at home and it is going to be a good crowd. It's going to be loud."
With a noon kickoff time and the game televised by ESPN, U of L players and coaches will wake up just before 7 a.m. Saturday to begin game preparations. Petrino said the team meal will be at 8 a.m. and the team will travel over to the stadium three hours before kickoff. For fans, tailgating lots open at 7 a.m. for the Green and Red Lots nearest the stadium.
"You need to get up early and get started," Petrino said. "That's nice too. You don't have to sit and wait all day long for the game to come. I would anticipate us to come out ready to play and fired up and be real aggressive. Of course, they are going to be a real good football team too so it will probably be a real good battle."
"It's going to be really early," wide receiver Broderick Clark said. "We're going to wake up early, get it going, get it started. We're going to go ahead and play instead of just sitting around in a hotel all day."
For Petrino, the game is his 27th as a head coach, and the beginning of his third season with the school. For sophomore quarterback Brian Brohm, Saturday's Oregon State game will be his first start in a home game. For Brohm, a former high school All-American at Louisville Trinity High School, Saturday figures to be a special day.
"I'm real excited about it," Brohm said. "Everyone likes to be in front of the home crowd. We always like the atmosphere coming out here and playing in front of 42,000 fans screaming for us. It is just going to be a great atmosphere for us."
Seemingly in the spotlight since middle school, Brohm has said his first collegiate start in front of the hometown crowd is one of the reasons he stayed in Louisville for college.
"I love it. I can look up into the crowd and see faces that I know, and people that have been cheering for me all of my life," Brohm said. "It's fun to see those people cheering for me while I'm out there."
Looking for people he knows in the stands would seem a bit distracting during the game. Brohm's not going to actually check the stands while he's playing, right?
"No, maybe before or maybe after the game when the game is ending up," Brohm laughed. "Not while I'm actually out there during the game."
One of the coaching staffs' biggest concerns has been the lead up to the Oregon State game. The Beavers (2-0) have two games under their belts, including a confidence building come from behind victory over previously-ranked Boise State last Saturday. For Petrino, an extra week to prepare wouldn't have been nearly as beneficial as another game.
"No, no, we don't like having the bye week right after the opener," Coach Petrino said. "That's tough on you. We spent four weeks preparing for the first game, then you play that first game and have to take two more weeks preparing before the next game. It's hard.
"I thought our players handled it pretty well. they practiced hard and practiced fast. We got better. We were able to come back last night and get a game preparation practice in for Oregon State and that went really well. You like the preparation time, but you also like getting into a game week rhythm. It is hard to keep practicing against each other all the time."
Petrino said his team practiced first team versus first team for much of this past week to prepare themselves for the speed of the game on Saturday. The Cardinals are expected to start a very similar starting line-up to the one used against Kentucky.
Kickoff is set for noon east time Saturday. The game will be televised by ESPN nationally with the broadcast team of Mark Jones (play-by-play), Chris Spielman (color) and Rob Stone (sideline). Locally, the game will be broadcast on 840 WHAS Radio by Paul Rogers (play-by-play), Craig Swabek (color) and Doug Ormay (sideline).
University of Louisville student-athletes will collect funds to aid Hurricane Katrina relief efforts at entrances to Papa John's Cardinal Stadium. The funds collected will be directed to the Conference USA Relief Fund to specifically aid Tulane and Southern Mississippi, a pair of C-USA member institutions which were hit hard by Hurricane Katrina.